The United States has admitted that US clothing companies were being supplied by the illegally constructed Bangladeshi garment factory complex whose collapse killed hundreds of people.
“We understand that businesses operating in this building appear to have links to numerous companies in the US and Europe,” AFP quoted State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell as saying on Wednesday.
However, Ventrell did not identify the US companies by name.
Many European retailers, including Primark, Benetton, and Mango, have already acknowledged using factories in the collapsed building.
“We continue to speak with many US companies that source from Bangladesh about workplace safety and the role that buyers can play in approving working conditions,” Ventrell added.
A very large portion of US and European apparel imports comes from Bangladesh. Many companies have been shifting orders there, because labor costs in the country are so low.
The shoddily-constructed structure where low-cost garments were made fell like a pack of cards on April 24 on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka. More than 3,000 people, mainly young women workers, were in the building at the time of the collapse.
Bangladeshi officials said on Wednesdays that the number of people killed in the collapse has passed 400.
The police say that hundreds of people are still missing in the country’s worst ever industrial accident.
Since April 25, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Dhaka to protest against poor working conditions and safety standards, with Western clothing retailers blamed for failing to provide basic working standards for their Asian suppliers.
Police officials say the factory owners had ignored warnings against allowing workers into the building after deep cracks were detected in the walls the day before the collapse.
Last November, more than 110 workers died in a blaze that engulfed a factory in an industrial suburb of Dhaka. Over 70 people were also killed when a garment factory building collapsed in the same area in 2005.